Archive for the ‘ ~3 to 5 Miles~ ’ Category

Bluff Point – Groton

  • Bluff Point State Park And Coastal Reserve
  • Depot Road, Groton, CT
  • Trailhead:  41°20’8.76″N, 72° 2’0.90″W
  • Last Time Hiked: April 14, 2018
  • Approximate distance hiked: 4.6 miles
  • Fairly easy with some elevation.

 

Bluff Point State Park once made the CNN list of the 50 states natural wonders. Surprisingly enough, even though it has been on the to do list for quite a while, it took me a few years to finally venture down here to check it out. Groton is a long drive to most Rhode Islanders. Pack a lunch, make a daytrip out of it, get out of Rhode Island once in a while! This place is worth the drive. The park offers well defined trails and signage where needed. The trails are used by walkers, hikers, joggers, bicyclists, and horseback riders. Dogs are welcome but must be leashed. Starting just after sunrise from the seemingly large and nearly empty parking lot at the end of Depot Road we started following the wide gravel road trail just beyond the informational signs. The trail soon splits about one tenth of a mile into the park. Stay to the right here and continue along the main trail that follows the Poquonnock River. You then follow this trail for 1.3 miles until you reach Bushy Point Beach ignoring spur trails both narrow and wide. Along the way there are several spots that overlook the river and features in the distance. Across the river is the bustling Groton-New London Airport. There are views of the peninsulas and points that jut out into the river as well as the lighthouses further in the distance. The Avery Point Lighthouse at the University of Connecticut Avery Point campus is visible as well as the haunted New London Ledge Light. The trail also winds gently up and down small hills flanked by towering trees and passes some areas of marsh and wetlands. There are an abundance of birds here as well. Great blue herons, egrets, cormorants, hawks, robins, cardinals, and woodpeckers were all spotted on this hike. When we reached the beach we explored it for a few minutes. The beach itself extends westward for nearly a mile, but we only ventured in the area around the entrance. The beach is closed in areas during nesting season of least terns and piping plovers. Dogs and horses are not allowed on the beach between April and August. Back to the main trail we climbed up the small hill of the bluff. There are several spur trails to the edge of the bluff and the rocky beach below. The rocky shoreline makes for a good photograph and was also being used by a couple fishermen. Looking to the south you can see Fishers Island from here. Back on the main trail, it starts to wind to the east and then to the north passing Sunset Rock on the left before winding to a cellar hole at a trail intersection. The spot is well marked with a sign that explains that this was once the Winthrop Homestead, the former Connecticut Governor. After lingering at the cellar hole for a bit we decided to follow the less traveled trail to Mumford Cove. There is a sign here indicating which trail to follow. This trail winds downhill through an area of scattered boulders, tall trees, and a seasonal brook before coming to the cove. There are a couple spots along the trail to take a peek at the cove and rest your legs if you so choose. Continuing, now heading north, the trail becomes more of a grass road. There is a large wooded hill to the left and areas of thickets and shrubbery to the right. The trail soon ends at a gravel road that runs from Haley Farm to the parking area where this hike started. Turning left here, follow the gravel road to the large parking area where the car is park. The lot was nearly full when finished the hike. Bluff Point is a very popular recreation spot.

 

Map can be found at: Bluff Point.

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Boulder at Bluff Point

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Trail Flanked By Trees

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Francis Carter West – Charlestown

  • Francis Carter Preserve – West
  • Kings Factory Road, Charlestown, RI
  • Trailhead:  41°25’56.37″N, 71°41’37.11″W
  • Last Time Hiked: March 10, 2018
  • Approximate distance hiked: 3.8 miles
  • Fairly easy.

 

The newest addition of the Francis Carter Preserve, being the western end, acquired in 2014 offers the red blazed Narragansett Loop and River Trail. This part of the preserve is a great example of how nature can reclaim land that was once industrial. This hike starts from the parking area along Kings Factory Road just south of the Pawcatuck River. The red blaze trail meanders east along the rivers edge first passing a fenced in cemetery. The trail soon comes to an area that is sandy and rutted by dirt bikes and ATV’s. Stay to the left here and you will find the next blaze. The aptly named river trail soon runs along the Pawcatuck River once again. The trail here climbs up and down small hills before ascending gently to a large open field. From here it is important to follow the signs. Turning left, follow the red blazed Narragansett Loop. Bear in mind that this a new trail and not as defined as other established trails in the preserve. In time the trail will be well used and well defined. For now keep an eye out for the next sign. The trail continues northward for a bit before turning to the right and joining with the Grassland Trail. Here you will want to stay to the right following what is now both the Narragansett Loop and Grassland Trail to the south. The path soon turns to the left following the southern perimeter of the large meadow. Just before the woods, on the left, there is an informational board about the grasslands. Take a moment to look at it. From here, continue straight into the woods following the yellow blazed trail. Just before the hill, the red blazed Narragansett Loop turns to the right into one of the nicest stretches of trail in Rhode Island. On the left you will find the ruins of on old chimney. The trail winds below a canopy of pines and hemlocks before passing under power lines. Continuing ahead the trail follows and old stone wall before turning to the left, slightly uphill, to some large boulders left behind from the last glacier. The trail soon comes to an old cart path where you turn right continuing to follow the red blazes. The pine trees here are very dense and thick making for a well shaded pine grove. The trail soon comes to a pair a gates. After passing the gate, you will be on a an old asphalt road. The signage here indicates that this section of the Loop Trail is temporary. The road soon comes to an intersection. The roads ahead and to the left are active. Turn right onto another abandoned asphalt road. This was the entrance road of the former industrial complex from yesteryear. The road soon bears to the left and becomes a dirt road. A few hundred feet ahead is the intersection where the River Trail comes to the Narragansett Loop. Turn left here and retrace your steps back to the parking area. Hunting is allowed on this property at times. Be sure to wear blaze orange during hunting season.

 

Map can be found at: Francis Carter West.

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Along The Narragansett Loop Trail

Weetamoo Woods East – Tiverton

  • Weetamoo Woods East
  • Lake Road, Tiverton, RI
  • Trailhead:  41°35’14.25″N, 71° 9’45.37″W
  • Last Time Hiked: December 9, 2017
  • Approximate distance hiked: 3.1 miles
  • Fairly easy with some rocky footing.

 

Weetamoo Woods in its entirety is easily one of the best places in Rhode Island to hike. The last time I hiked Weetamoo I did about five and a half miles of trails that are described in a Ken Weber book. For this hike I opted to explore the remaining trails in the eastern end of the preserve. Starting from a small parking area on Lake Road, myself and a couple friends first followed the red blazed trail into the property. The trail is quite rocky in areas and footing can be a little challenging. Take your time here if the rocks are wet. Soon we came to a four way intersection (Waypoint 5). The red blazed trail intersects with a blue blazed and orange blazed trail, both on the left. Here we turned onto the orange trail and soon stumbled upon a cellar hole on the right. The trail passes a few stone walls and traverse through an area of beech and hollies. We then turned right onto the Meadow Trail (marked with a sign/Waypoint 6). This trail first crosses a gas easement and winds through the woods before coming to a large meadow. The trail continues with the meadow to the left and a long stone wall to the right. At the far end of the meadow you will catch your first glimpse of Borden Brook below on the right. The Meadow Trail ends at the yellow blazed trail where we turned right. This trail first crosses over Borden Brook and then follows an old cart path for a bit before turning right in the woods. Be sure to keep an eye for the yellow blazes for the turn as the cart path continues straight ahead. There are a few trail intersections here. Continue pass the blue blazes and then follow the red blazes. Soon you will come to Borden Brook again. Here you will find some rather impressive stone work. First, are the remains of an old sawmill complete with large stone walls. Second, step off the trail and follow the brook a few steps down stream to few the craftsmanship of the stone arch bridge. From the sawmill site you could either follow the red or blue blazed trail to the east as they both lead to the same trail intersection ahead. We opted to stay to the left and follow the red blazed trail as it climbed steadily uphill before crossing the gas easement once again. Shortly after way came back to Waypoint 5. From here we retraced our steps back along the red blazed trail to the parking area.

 

Map can be found at: Weetamoo Woods East.

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Along The Orange Blazed Trail

Pocasset Ridge – Tiverton

  • Pocasset Ridge Conservation Area
  • Main Road, Tiverton, RI
  • Trailhead: 41°36’3.32″N, 71°11’40.09″W
  • Last Time Hiked: November 5, 2017
  • Approximate distance hiked: 3.2 miles
  • Moderate, some hills.

 

Being offered as a “wildland” that is open to the public, the Nature Conservancy and the Tiverton Land Trust has recently opened one of the newest trail systems in the State. The entrance is just beyond a garage off of Main Road. The trail follows a stone wall to a large kiosk. At the kiosk the trail turns to the left through the wall and immediately right continuing to follow the tall stone wall before bearing to the north. The trail then follows the back property lines of the neighbors for several hundred feet, passing some puddingstone boulders, before turning abruptly to the right. From here the trail follows an old cart path into the heart of the property first passing a small swampy area and over some small boardwalks. The trail soon starts its long gradual climb uphill before coming to the first trail split. The trail intersection is well signed. Stay to the left here to do the loop trail. The route retraces old trails and a link connects them to provide a loop trail in the back parts of the preserve. This loop climbs some of the higher elevations of the property. There is also an abundance of boulders along the loop. Being new, the trail is still rather primitive. It is blazed with white diamonds featuring an owl on it. Be sure to follow the blazes to stay on the trail. After completing the loop trail retrace your steps back to the first trail intersection. From here follow the Cliff Trail. It is blazed the same as the Loop Trail (white diamonds with owls). This trail winds southerly passing a small stream, dipping into a valley, and then up to a large rock outcrop that overlooks to the west. Be weary of the edge as the opposite side is a nearly straight drop down of 50 feet or more. From here retrace your steps back to the trail intersection and then down the trail you came in on. Be sure to remember to turn to the left near the neighboring properties and follow the trail to the parking area. Hunting is allowed on this property. Be sure to wear blaze orange during hunting season.

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Along The Loop Trail

Hell’s Half Acre – West Greenwich

  • Hell’s Half Acre – Big River Management Area
  • Congdon Mill Road, West Greenwich, RI
  • Trailhead: 41°36’42.98″N, 71°37’20.15″W
  • Last Time Hiked: October 29, 2017
  • Approximate distance hiked: 4.3 miles
  • Moderate, some hills, can be difficult to navigate.

 

The New London Turnpike was once the main thoroughfare between Providence and New London. The road, nearly straight for miles, was scattered with small villages along its route. At the intersection of Congdon Mill Road was one of these small villages. As railroads and public roads were built, the once very heavily traveled toll road became nearly obsolete. Now off the beaten path, this one in particular village became a haven for gambling, prostitution, and an occasional murder earning its name Hell’s Half Acre. Today nothing remains of it except an old cellar hole here and there, if you can find them in the growth of young pine trees. For this hike, covering a large portion of the southern parts of the Big River Management Area, we started at the parking area along Congdon Mill Road just east of the Congdon River. The old dirt road leaves the parking area in a northeasterly direction. Immediately we saw a great blue heron fly overhead as we were starting our hike. After going downhill a bit the road splits. Here we turned right following a rocky trail uphill. Soon there is a spur trail to the left that leads downhill to a small pond. We checked it out and then returned to the trail we were on, continuing uphill, soon overlooking valleys below. Along the way you will come to a property marker to your left. It appears to read “RA 1885”. Ahead is a dip in the trail as it descends quickly down before climbing rapidly back uphill. There is a split in the trail here as well. Stay to the left and at the top of the hill turn to the left following the most defined trail. You will soon come to a “faint” trail intersection. Continue to follow the well defined trail here. A little further ahead is yet another trail intersection. Turn left here and stay to the left as the path widens into another well defined trail. The hardest part of the navigation is now behind you. If you have taken all the proper turns you will soon be following the top of a hill with a deep valley to your left. It was around this area we caught a glimpse of a deer leaping through the woods. At the next trail intersection we stayed to the right making our way to another intersection where we stayed to the left as the trail descends downhill towards  Hells Half Acre. You will notice that the forest floor is now covered with a dense growth of young pines. When you approach the next intersection stay to the left again. Here the trail loops near the intersection. The growth of the pine trees covers what cellar holes may be here. There is no evidence of the village whatsoever along the trail. But when the late October wind kicked up every so gently, we could here the laughter of young women, drunk men, and a tavern piano playing. The trail then winds to the north soon crossing a rickety old bridge that spans a small brook. The trail then comes to another intersection. Look over your left shoulder, there should be a sign that says “Buck Run”. At the intersection stay to the left. Ahead, and unfortunely, there is evidence of humans. There is a small section of trail that is littered with trash from yesteryear. The remainder of this trail offers stone walls and an occasional boulder. Continue straight passing a trail coming in from the right and a trail that is on the left. Soon you will come to a intersection of old dirt roads. Turn left here, onto Sweet Sawmill Road, a well defined trail that you will follow straight back to the parking area. The old dirt road soon becomes flanked by stone walls and passes open fields where pheasant hunters can be found. Continuing straight you will pass an old wooden “Regulations” sign and cross a small stream once again before ending the hike at the parking area. Big River is notoriously known for its web and mazes of unmarked trails. It is highly recommended to not only obtain a map of the property but use a GPS tracking device while hiking here. This hike is fairly easy with some hills, but navigation can be difficult and one could easily get lost here. Also, this area is used by hunters. Be sure to wear blaze orange during hunting season.

 

Map can be found at: Hell’s Half Acre (courtesy of Auntie Beak).

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Pine Grove by Hell’s Half Acre

 

Dark Swamp – Glocester

  • Dark Swamp
  • Willie Woodhead Road, Glocester, RI
  • Trailhead: 41°54’3.72″N, 71°45’48.62″W
  • Last Time Hiked: September 16, 2017
  • Approximate distance hiked: 3.6 miles
  • Moderate due to navigation, otherwise fairly easy with some elevation.

 

In November of 1923, two young explorers set out from Providence to find the swamp that for years was reputed to be cursed. The stories date back to when the colonists were settling the area. It is believed that they were warned by the Natives of this area and its curse to keep the colonists from this land. It is also said that several of the colonists who did not heed the warning were never seen again. These two young explorers never did reach their destination that day. They were Clifford Eddy and H.P. Lovecraft, (at the time unknown) horror story authors. In September of 2017, a group of hikers led by members of the Northwest Rhode Island Supporters of Open Space set out to Dark Swamp ignoring the heeded warnings. They were successful! Dark Swamp was found and they all made it out to tell the story. It is suggested however, that if you do head out for this hike, be sure to use a GPS device as most of the trails are not marked and there are plenty of side trails and spurs. Starting at a cul-de-sac at the end of Willie Woodhead Road we made our way along the trail in a southerly direction as it climbed slightly uphill. Ahead this trail meets the North South Trail. Bear to the right and follow the blue blazed trail. There are trails to both the right and left that are mostly grass covered. Ignore them and continue straight. At the half mile mark there is a trail on the right with a cellar hole. You will return on this trail. Continue straight passing over a large outcrop of a rock believe to be a threshing rock. Shortly after this rock on the left there is another narrow and grassy trail. Take it, the trail splits, stay to the left and follow the narrow trail. It leads to old ice pond. From here retrace your steps back to the blue blazed North South Trail and continue south. Starting looking for a trail on the right (about 9/10 of a mile into the hike). Take the right, then almost immediately left. Continue straight, passing yet another spur trail on the right, the trail vanishes into a field of ferns. Ahead and below is the first glimpse of the Dark Swamp with its near black water covered with a twisted and interlaced brush over it.  This area offers many other sights of swamps. Turn around passing the spur trail (now on your left) and instead of turning right onto the trail you came in on, turn left. This trail, unmarked, winds to the west and then north passing some stone walls before ending. Take note of your surroundings here. At the intersection you will exit to the right when you return. For now turn left. This trail will lead you into the depths of Dark Swamp. Shortly you will see another swamp on the right. Just beyond this swamp you will start to see piles of rocks. These are cairns, similar to the ones in Parker Woodland. Locals believe they may be from the Native Americans. Continuing ahead you will come to another trail intersection. Stay to left here and soon you will catch a glimpse of the swamp once again on the left. At the time of this hike we saw frogs and a heron here. The trail then climbs up and over a rather impressive hill before winding through a hemlock grove. The trail all but ends as you approach the large body of water created by beavers. Here is one of the largest swamps in the area complete with beaver dam and beaver hut. This is great spot for a break and to take in nature. From here retrace your steps pass the swamps and cairns. Continue straight at the “noted” intersection. It soon passes an old building and cellar hole on the left. At the end of this trail turn left. You are now back on the blue blazed North South Trail. The trail back to the car will be on your left. Hunting is allowed here, blaze orange is required during hunting season. And again, use GPS here.

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The Swamp at the End of The Trail. (Note the Beaver Hut)

Newport Mansions – Newport

  • Newport Mansions Walk
  • Ochre Point Avenue, Newport, RI
  • Trailhead: 41°28’9.80″N, 71°17’58.48″W
  • Last Time Hiked: July 16, 2017
  • Approximate distance hiked: 3.9 miles
  • Fairly easy.

 

The city by the sea has a long history, from the American Revolution to the America’s Cup. Newport’s most famous attractions though are the mansions built by some of America’s wealthiest people. This walk visits most of the mansions and includes a section of the famed Cliff Walk. The walk itself takes about two and a half hours at a very leisurely pace (not including visits to the mansions). Starting from the parking lot for The Breakers at the corner of Ochre Point Avenue and Victoria Avenue, head south on Ochre Point Avenue and the left onto Ruggles Avenue toward the sea. Along the way you will be following the tall wrought iron fence with limestone pillars that borders of one of the most famed mansions. When you reach the end of the road turn left onto the Cliff Walk. To your right is the ocean and on your left is the large lawn and back of The Breakers. This mansion, built in 1895, was owned by Cornelius Vanderbilt II, and today is the most visited site in Rhode Island. Continuing along the Cliff Walk you soon come upon Salve Regina University. Here is another large mansion, being Ochre Court. This is the second largest mansion in Newport (after the Breakers) and was built in 1892. Continuing to Narragansett Avenue you will come to the famed Forty Steps. Here you get a unique opportunity to make your way below the Cliff Walk to the rocky shoreline below. The steps and rocks tend to be wet so be sure to exercise extreme caution here. After climbing up the steps you will then leave the Cliff Walk and head west on Narragansett Avenue to the famed Bellevue Avenue. There are several private residences along this stretch that are quite impressive. Along the way and on the right is Chepstow. This mansion was built in 1860 and set back off of Narragansett Avenue. The mansion is actually quite difficult to see from the road as its gardens and trees hide it from view. In mid July the hydrangeas are quite impressive. Ahead on the left at the intersection of Bellevue Avenue is a large stone house. This is the Osgood-Pell House, built in 1887, and is home to the Preservation Society of Newport County. Continuing, turn right onto Bellevue Avenue, you will next pass the White Lodge Condominiums on the right before coming to The Elms on the left. This mansion, built in 1901, is quite close to the street and has large wrought iron gates. Behind the mansion is a large lawn and gardens. There are a couple more smaller mansions to the north along Bellevue Avenue, most notably Kingscote and the Isaac Bell House. For this walk, however, reverse your direction and start heading south on Bellevue Avenue passing Narragansett Avenue. In a few blocks you will come to the Chateau-sur-Mer. This mansion, built in 1852 of Fall River granite, ushered in Newport’s gilded age. Continuing along Bellevue Avenue you will pass Vernon Court, the Illustration Museum and its clock before coming to Rosecliff. This mansion, built in 1902, is set back off the road and has a large sprawling lawn in front of it. In the right light you can see through the large windows of the mansion and see the ocean behind it. The ballroom at Rosecliff has been featured in several films including The Great Gatsby, True Lies, and Amistad. Continuing south you will pass the (formally Astors) Beechwood Mansion, currently being renovated, before coming to the Marble House. Built in 1892, and resembling the White House in Washington D.C., this was another of the Vanderbilt mansions. Behind the mansion (and viewed best from the Cliff Walk) is the famed Chinese Tea House. From the Marble House turn around and follow Bellevue Avenue to the north retracing your steps for a few blocks. You will be looking for a one way sign at Marine Avenue. There is no actual street sign for this street so be sure not to miss it. The street looks like a driveway. Turn here and follow the street to the east as it narrows to almost just a cart path. Ahead and beyond the gate is the Cliff Walk once again. Take a look to your right and notice the Tea House in the distance. For this walk turn left and follow the Cliff Walk over the “sea wall” and then around the bend at Anglesea. A ramp then brings you up to the end of Ruggles Avenue. Turn left, then right onto Ochre Point Avenue to the parking lot for the Breakers. This walk could take almost literally all day if you choose to actually tour the mansions.

 

Trail map can be found at: Newport Mansions.

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The Breakers From The Cliff Walk

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